New Politics Vol. XIII No. 3, Whole Number 51

From the Editors

The Essential Bob Fitch, Jane Latour

Worldwide Demonstrations and strikes

  • General Strikes and Massive Demonstrations Challenge Neoliberal Reforms in France, Richard Greeman
  • Revolutionary Challenges in Tunisia and Egypt: Generations in Conflict, Stuart Schaar
  • Wisconsin’s Cheesehead Revolt, Paul Buhle
  • Global Governance and Revolution in the 21st Century, Steven Colatrella

Good Neighbor Imperialism — Latin American Relations Under Obama, Walt Vanderbush

The Bard ISM Student Organization Controversy, Leon Botstein

A Young Radical’s View of Marriage, Amy Littlefield

Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly, Herman Rosenfeld

Letter from Ireland, Lily Murphy

Torture and Historical Memory, Robert Pallitto

In Defense of Public Education, Megan Behrent

More Democracy, Less Poverty, Larry Patriquin

Toward an Independent Working-class Climate Movement, Daniel Randall and Paul Hampton

Starting All Over from Scratch, Sheila Cohen

Book Reviews

  • Au Loong Yu, How Socialist Is the Chinese Party State? rev. of Wang Hui, The End of the Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity
  • Michael Wreszin, Reading People’s Mail Should Be Fun — Not This Time, rev. of Saul Bellow, Letters, ed. Benjamin Taylor
  • Sam Kradel, The Inner Lives of the Conquerors, rev. of Richard Immerman, Empire for Liberty: A History of America from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz
  • Dan La Botz, Vicissitudes of a Theory, rev. of Michael Löwy, The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development: The Theory of Permanent Revolution
  • Herman Benson, Left Pitted Against Left in “Labor’s Civil Wars,” rev. of Steve Early, The Civil Wars In U.S. Labor
  • Manfred McDowell, Sky Without Light, rev. of Ngo Van, In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary
  • Laurie Calhoun, Neither Masks Nor Gloves, rev. of Tony Geraghty, Soldiers of Fortune and Black Ops
  • George Fish, Red Rosa: An Intimate Self-Portrait, rev. of Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, eds., Annelies Laschitza, Georg Adler, and Peter Hudis, tr. by George Shriver
  • Michael Wreszin, The Dr. Jeckyl And Mr. Hyde Of 20th Century Intellectual History, rev. of Michael Scammell, Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a 20th Century Skeptic
  • Dan La Botz, Sartre and the Idea of Freedom in the Anti-Colonial Struggle, rev. of Paige Arthur, Unfinished Projects: Decolonization and the Philosophy of J. P. Sartre

Words And Pictures

Kent Worcester, Superhero Politics, rev. of Erich Origen and Gan Golan, The Adventures of Unemployed Man

In this issue:

The Essential Bob Fitch

By:

Of all the profiles written about Bob Fitch during his lifetime—in Forbes Magazine, Monthly Labor Review, etc.—two of the best were penned by student journalists. In typical Fitch fashion, he made time for the students, sharing his experiences, insights and passions. Jessica Johnson met Fitch while interning for the late veteran labor journalist Martin Fishgold, a friend of Fitch and his fierce partisan.

General Strikes and Massive Demonstrations Challenge Neoliberal Reforms in France

By:

Since the Crash of 2008, European governments and the banks that control them have been trying to make the working people pay the bill for the massive bailouts that saved the financial markets from near-total collapse. As in the United States, a previously undetected "debt crisis" has been declared while traders continue to pay themselves fabulous salaries and bonuses. Suddenly there is "no money" when it comes to paying for the health, education, retirement, and social services that benefit the general public.

Revolutionary Challenges in Tunisia and Egypt: Generations in Conflict

By:

The great Syrian poet, Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) more than four decades ago called on a new Arab generation to break with their dictatorial, bankrupt, and corrupt leaders and their supporters. Qabbani, from his London exile, hoped that young people would transform the Arab world into a new free and vibrant society where citizens could develop their full potential and flourish.

Wisconsin’s Cheesehead Revolt

By:

By this time, the usual New Politics reader may well have seen dozens if not hundreds of Youtube videos revealing the demonstrations in Madison, Wisconsin, during February and March, not to mention sights and sounds of solidarity-with-Wisconsin rallies around the country and in their own community. (Being good New Politics readers, they would have joined in.) The details have been hard to follow, even close to the scene.

Global Governance and Revolution in the 21st century: Strikes, Austerity and Political Crisis

By:

GLOBAL GOVERNANCE IS ARGUABLY THE NAME for what might pass these days for "a committee for the management of the affairs of the bourgeoisie as a whole" – though we should recall that the much repeated phrase by Marx and Engels stated that "the executive of the modern state" filled this role, not, for instance, the legislature or other state institutions.

Good Neighbor Imperialism: U.S.-Latin American Relations under Obama

By:

THE EXPECTATIONS FOR CHANGE in U.S. policy toward Latin America when Barack Obama was elected president seemed as high among most governments and citizens of Latin America as the expectations of the voters in the United States who cast their ballots for him. Many analysts believed that the relationship between the region and the United States had reached a new low point during the two terms of Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush.

The Bard ISM Student Organization Controversy

By:

Over the past several weeks, Bard College and I as its president have been the object of unsubstantiated, exaggerated, and often vitriolic accusations regarding a student group on campus that has chosen to affiliate itself with an organization called the International Solidarity Movement. Some of those who have posted on blogs and written emails claim that ISM is a "terrorist" organization committed to the destruction of the State of Israel and its people.

A Young Radical’s View of Marriage

By:

A University of Michigan study[1] found that becoming a wife creates seven added hours of housework per week for women. For men, housework decreases by one hour per week after marriage. Another way to say this is that gender roles some like to claim are dead are in fact alive and well. The study took a "nationally representative" sample of couples (including, presumably, some who believed they were flouting the division of labor) and relied on time-diary data from 2005.

The Greater Toronto Workers Assembly: A Hopeful Experiment

By:

It is a sad irony, that in the midst of the deepest economic slump since the Depression, it is working class and socialist political institutions that have been in crisis. Even with the inspiring new movements in a number of U.S. states, the Mideast and some European countries coming up on the political horizon, the larger union movement here has remained mired in a sluggish defensiveness.

Letter from Ireland: Zoom, Zoom The Irish General Election 2011

By:

Zoom zoom zoom zoom / The world is in a mess
With politics and taxes / And people grinding axes
There’s no happiness.

— So sang Ella Fitzgerald all those years ago

Torture and Historical Memory

By:

North Americans seem to believe that torture has no history here. It happened in medieval Europe, at the command of dictators in far-off places, or as part of leftist insurgencies. For the United States, torture is anathema to our way of life, violative of our liberal-democratic commitments. From George Washington to George W. Bush, U.S. presidents have denounced torture unequivocally. Or so it was, as the story goes, before the September 11 attacks.

In Defense of Public Education

By:

Anyone living in the United States today has, undoubtedly, been bludgeoned over the head with the key argument of those who don the false mantle of education reform, despite never having set foot in a classroom themselves: that the biggest obstacles standing in the way of education today are teachers and their unions.

More Democracy, Less Poverty

By:

Amongst the richest countries, the United States has some of the highest rates of indigence, especially for children; levels of poverty that are exorbitant for visible minorities and single mothers; a growing maldistribution of income and wealth; and seemingly never-ending increases in the use of soup kitchens and food pantries.

Starting All Over from Scratch?: A Plea for "Radical Reform" of Our Own Movement

By:

The current global crisis of capitalism makes the task set by the Daniel Singer Millennium Prize Foundation* look relatively straightforward.

review

How Socialist Is the Chinese Party State?

By:

The publisher of Wang Hui’s book described it as follows: "arguing that China’s revolutionary history and its current liberalization are part of the same discourse of modernity, Wang Hui calls for alternatives to both its capitalist trajectory and its authoritarian past."

      What follows is our review of the book in the light of this description: how far this assessment is correct, and how relevant it is for those social activists who are pursuing just such an alternative in China.

review

Reading People’s Mail Should Be Fun — Not This Time

By:

I found this volume of edited letters disappointing, particularly so since I agree with the critics, that Saul Bellow was a great writer, one of very best in the second half of the 20th century. Alfred Kazin compared him to Melville, and Norman Podhoretz declared that Bellow was "a stylist of the first order, perhaps the greatest virtuoso of language the novel has seen since Joyce."

review

The Inner Lives of the Conquerors

By:

The United States’ status as some form of imperial power is scarcely disputed on the Left. Richard Immerman’s Empire for Liberty: A History of America from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz is not a book written particularly for or from the Left, yet in some respects it goes further in defense of this idea than many leftists have allowed.

review

Vicissitudes of a Theory

By:

During the 1970s, Michael Löwy, a leading intellectual of the Trotskyist Fourth International, attempted to generalize Leon Trotsky’s "theory of permanent revolution" into a general theory that could explain not only the Russian, but also the Yugoslavian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cuban revolutions. He believed his version of the theory could explain recent and still unfolding events in the colonies and developing nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

review

Left Pitted Against Left in "Labor’s Civil Wars"

By:

The "civil wars" that Steve Early mentions in his new book are not about the class war between labor and capital, nor any war between a conservative right and a radical left in unions. It is the war that split labor’s progressive left, and Early is an apt author to tell us about it.

review

Sky Without Light: A Vietnamese Tragedy

By:

Ngo Van’s memoir of "those other movements and revolts caught in the crossfire between the French and the Stalinists" in the years before the American commitment in Vietnam reminded me, painfully, of an "editorial" I wrote on the fall of Saigon.

review

Neither Masks nor Gloves

By:

IN 1961, DWIGHT D. EISENHOWERwarned about the dangers of capitalized war, how the military-industrial complex was already taking on a life all its own, and the single-minded quest for profit—a virtue under capitalism — would continue to drive weapons companies to exert an untold influence upon politicians. Since that time, the war-making apparatus has expanded both in size and in kind, with ever more partners joining in on the enterprise.

review

Red Rosa: An Intimate Self-Portrait

By:

The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg is the first volume in a projected 14-volume set, The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, of all the extant writings of this great revolutionary socialist in English—all available newspaper articles and speeches, significant polemical and Marxist theoretical writings, and her letters and telegrams, prepared collaboratively by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Karl Dietz Veralg, and Verso Books.

review

The Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde of 20th Century Intellectual History

By:

Anyone interested in intellectual history from the great depression of the thirties to the post war 1980s will be familiar with the impact of Arthur Koestler, whose famous assault on Stalinism and the Soviet Union in his novel Darkness at Noon was a widely praised international bestseller. There was a vehemently critical biography written by David Cesurani, Arthur Koestler—The Homeless Mind published in London in 1998. It was an opinionated attack on Koestler’s personality and moral stature.

review

Sartre and the Idea of Freedom in the Anti-Colonial Struggle

By:

In the late 1960s it seemed to many almost certain that Jean-Paul Sartre would be remembered as the most important philosopher of the twentieth century and the most important public intellectual on the left of that era. Certainly it seemed so to me at the time. Sartre had in the 1930s taken Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time and its reactionary and religious version of phenomenology and transformed them in Being and Nothingness into his new humanist philosophy of existentialism, a leftwing philosophy of freedom.

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